Once you get specific about where you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there then it’s time to find the motivation to carry you through the initial stages of the process that require a lot of willpower. A great way to do this is ask yourself “Why?” over and over until you get very specific. This can be a very tough process, so I suggest you write it out. It’s easy to make excuses for yourself and rationalize when you do this in your head, but when you write it out you can take your time and be very honest.
I say this can be a tough process because you’re digging into parts of your mind you’d rather not look at to figure out what drives you. When it comes to body image and health, there can be some very painful, strong emotions that come up. This is absolutely essential to the process of making real, lasting change. Many people “know” what they need to do to eat healthy and exercise, but knowing doesn’t get them in the gym or the vegetable aisle of the grocery store. Strong emotions, not vague desires, are what cause people to make real change.
Here’s an example of what the process looks like:
Goal – I want to lose fat.
Why? I want to look good.
Why? I want people to double take when they see me and wonder how I got in such good shape. Why? When I go out in public right now I’m extremely self conscious about the extra pounds I’ve put on lately.
Why? Every day I wake up and look in the mirror and cringe. This is an awful way to start my day.
Why? I used to be in great shape and feel awesome, now I can’t stand to look at myself.
Why? I’ve been depressed about my career and I have been eating junk as a way to cope with the long days.
Why? I’ve been feeling bad for myself and think I deserve a treat now and then, but eating junk food has turned into a destructive habit.
Why? I feel trapped and can’t do anything about my career right now, so I take control of my eating and eat pleasurable food even though I know it’s bad for me.
Why? Because it’s easier than eating healthy food.
Why? Because I’ve let myself fall into terrible habits.
Now you start going in circles and you can see how you’ve let yourself get pulled into a destructive, negative feedback loop. You feel bad so you give yourself a treat, but instead of it helping you feel worse, because now you feel bad about the way you look – and the problem with your job is still there. You want to get in shape but you crave junk food and feel bad about these cravings.
It’s easy to see how these negative feedback loops start, and every downward spiral compounds the problem. The best way to break the loop is to start somewhere, with something you can control. Seeing the problem clearly and feeling the strong emotions is the rocket fuel you need to blast you out free fall. Use your emotion to motivate yourself to execute the plan and destroy excuses. When you feel like giving up or cheating, look at your Why sheet and remember that this health and fitness stuff is worth all of the effort when you reach your goals.